Omnibus or Bust

Lawmakers are working frantically this week on Capitol Hill to pass an omnibus bill before government funding runs out on Friday. With this year’s legislative calendar approaching its end, multiple bargaining chips are on the table as Democrats and Republicans work to finalize the must-pass spending package. Notably, one measure has quickly risen to the top of the bipartisan priority list and could be added in hopes of striking a deal between Democrats and Republicans: reversing the U.S. oil exports ban.

Last week, the House of Representatives voted 249-174 to pass the all-inclusive, “North American Energy Security & Infrastructure Act,” which includes language reversing the crude oil ban. Significantly, this is the second time in less than two months that the House has voted to lift the decades-old ban.

Nonetheless a success for supporters, the passing of this bill was a symbolic gesture by Republicans to state their intentions of modernizing our nation’s energy policy. As Drew Johnson, a Senior Scholar at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, argued recently in the Washington Examiner, “Instead of passing scores of well-liked bills and daring the president to commit political suicide by vetoing legislation the public overwhelming supports, GOP leaders let mountains of popular proposals pile up on their desks.”

It’s clear the campaign to lift the ban has now reached a heightened level of urgency on Capitol Hill. And for good reason.

Exporting crude oil would bring tremendous economic benefits to American consumers and producers. As OPEC continues to pump crude oil into the global energy supply, U.S. producers are subject to negative repercussions since they cannot compete on the world market. Being the only commodity that is not traded freely in the U.S., if overturned, crude oil exports will allow producers to compete openly for competitive fair prices.

Crude oil exports would also breathe much needed life back into the nation’s job market at a time when the industry struggles with declining job numbers. The Brookings Institution projects at least 200,000 new jobs and $1.8 trillion in economic revenue. What’s more, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecasted lowered fuel prices. Clearly, it’s a win-win for consumers and our economy.

As the hours tick by, lawmakers continue their work around the negotiating table to include the provision in the omnibus package. Hopefully, the U.S. can ring in the New Year with modernized energy policy that ends the 1970s ban on crude oil exports.